The 5 Biggest Food Fights of 2014

Paul Michael Hughes

Nothing important changes without a fight. And in the world of food politics, 2014 brought quite a few battles and a respectable amount of real-world change for the better. Behold, the year’s top food fights: 1. Big Mayonnaise vs. Eggless Mayo

Who Benefits When Walmart Funds the Food Movement?

Photo by Walmart Corporate, via Flickr.

Last month’s impressive Black Friday protests at a reported 1,000 Walmart stores highlight the growing movement against the company’s low wage culture. As the nation’s largest private employer, Walmart has done more than any other company to reinforce income inequality. With an average wage of $8.81 per hour, Walmart keeps its labor expenses low by encouraging its employees to rely on charity and sign up for federal benefits such as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (SNAP).

The corporation’s impacts on the food system are no less troublesome. It has been at the center of the nation’s cheap food structure, forcing a globalization and industrialization that is grounded in a race to the bottom for labor and environmental standards. It has driven out of business an untold number of small food retailers, which were once the heart and soul of community food systems across rural America. Read More

Menu Calorie Counts: ‘Personal Responsibility’ or Public Health Measure?

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Big food companies have long pushed for personal responsibility among consumers—the idea that, given the right information, most people can regulate their own diet and make good choices.

Take McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. According to him, the mega-corporation hopes to, “use our size and scale around the world to help educate, empower, and encourage our customers to make informed choices so they can live a balanced, healthy lifestyle.” Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association’s new public awareness campaign and accompanying Mixify website is another good example. They’re aimed at educating the soda-drinking audience with a “calories in, calories out” message to prevent obesity. Read More

McDonald’s and In-School Marketing: The Clown Speaks From Both Sides of His Mouth

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The McDonald’s corporation has lately fallen on hard times, enduring seven straight months of declining domestic sales, a food safety scandal involving its Chinese meat supplier, politically motivated restaurant closures in Russia, even a Consumer Reports survey ranking its burgers as the “worst in America.” So on a December 10th conference call, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson and U.S. President Mike Andres sought to reassure skittish McDonald’s investors by outlining a seven-point plan to turn around the troubled corporation.
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That Wine Isn’t Vegan and Other Reasons to Go Natural

Stas Walenga / Shutterstock.

Learning that wine has ingredients like bull’s blood or crab shells is likely to trigger panic attacks in some dedicated vegans. It certainly did to Kate Jacoby. Jacoby is co-owner of Philadelphia’s Vedge restaurant with her chef husband, Rich Landau. “When I found out that a wine can be made and processed with animal and dairy products, I freaked out,” she said. Jacoby was writing a serious wine list, but she’d begun to wonder: Would she be limited to one or two wines? Read More

Dinner and Climate Change: Global Poll Shows Eaters Connecting the Dots

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In 2010, when I was on tour promoting my book Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, I felt lonely. Not because no one was showing up for my book talks, they were. And not because I was alone; with my nine-month-old daughter in tow, I was never by myself. I felt lonely because, back then, there were very few of us talking about the connections between food and climate change, despite the fact that the global food system—from field to plate to landfill—is responsible for as much as one third of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

In just a few years that has changed. Somewhat. Read More

Oregon’s GMO Labeling Initiative Didn’t Pass. Here’s Why We’re Still Winning.

Photo by Number657

Yesterday, five weeks after the November election, campaigners for Oregon’s Measure 92—one of the nation’s most closely watched efforts to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods—officially conceded defeat.

Last month, the measure trailed by less than 2,000 votes, triggering an automatic recount. The recount revealed that the measure had been defeated by a mere 837 votes, making it among the closest statewide elections in Oregon’s history. Though the measure failed, along with similar efforts in California, Colorado, and Washington over the past two years, the narrow margin in Oregon makes me more sure than ever that we will see mandatory labeling soon. Read More